So, you’re planning your wedding. You’ve set your date and you’ve booked your venue. Now it’s time to start thinking about hiring a photographer to capture your day. The first question on your mind is probably “How much do wedding photographers cost?”
It’s a great question, but it’s one that takes a little time to answer. Wedding photography prices vary widely based on factors such as location, the experience of the photographer, the quality of the service provide and product they offer, and many others.
Read on for a few quick guidelines that will give you a better idea of how much you should expect to budget for a wedding photographer.
Wedding Photography Cost Varies by Location.
Much like other products and services, wedding photography there’s a wide spectrum when it comes to cost depending the location of your wedding. This is due to factors such as cost of living, cost of doing business and supply and demand in a given area. For instance, you’re going to pay a lot more for a wedding photographer in New York City than you will in Des Moines, Iowa.
According to a recent poll on the Fearless Photographers website (one of the top wedding photography directories in the world), the average cost of wedding photography in the United States is just over $3,700. This figure is specifically for eight hours of coverage for a Saturday wedding, but does not include albums, prints or an engagement session. These items will be an additional cost.
We’re located in Colorado and due to our booming tourism industry, everything here costs a little more than the national average, including wedding photography.
Wedding Photographer Experience
The next thing you have to consider is the acumen of each individual wedding photographer. Since anyone can buy a camera, quickly build a website and call themselves a wedding photographer, you’re going to come across everything from weekend hobbyists to long-time industry vets.
There’s a popular saying that tells us it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given field. Wedding photography is no different. A newbie can have a ton of talent and potential, but that doesn’t mean they understand the nuances and logistics of thoroughly and efficiently capturing an entire wedding day.
Since you only get one chance to capture your wedding on film, you’ll want to think very carefully before hiring someone who’s new to the business.
Wedding Photography Quality
Wedding photography is an art form, and like any other art form, some folks are better at it than others. Booking a wedding photographer isn’t like going to buy a tank of gas where you simply search the lowest price available.
It’s more like purchasing a new car. Some people want a Prius and some want a Tesla. Some want a luxury automobile and some just want to get from point A to point B. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, but the price tag is going to be completely different due to factors such as build-quality, available features and customer service.
The same thing goes when you’re hiring a wedding photographer.
Other Factors that Contribute to Wedding Photography Cost:
Similar to other goods and services, exclusivity plays an important role in how much a given wedding photographer will charge. Some photographers limit the number of weddings they shoot per year to give themselves the time and mental bandwidth to do each wedding justice and give each couple the customized experience they deserve. These photographers’ calendars tend to fill up fast, and for good reason.
Also, some photographers run a more professional business than others. They have liability and equipment insurance policies, backup camera gear in case of emergency and backup photographers on-call in case of accidents or illness. As I mentioned earlier, you only get once chance to capture your wedding day, so if you hire a hobbyist and they don’t show up or their camera breaks, you’re out of luck.
One other factor that contributes to wedding photography cost is the time of year and/or the day of the week. Some photographers (not all) will offer slightly reduced rates for weekday weddings or off-season weddings, since most couples like to get married on weekends in the summer.
Keep in mind, exactly when the off-season happens will also depend on location. For Colorado weddings, the off-season is November through March. So if you have your wedding on a Tuesday in January, you could potentially save money on not only your photography, but on your wedding venue and other wedding vendors as well.
So… How Much do Wedding Photographers cost?
As a general rule of thumb, budget weddings photographers cost somewhere in the range of $1,000 – $3,000, mid-range wedding photographers around $3,000-$5,000 and the top photographers somewhere between $5,000 – $10,000 and up.
But instead of dwelling on national averages and thinking about how much other couples are spending on their wedding photographers, sit down and consider what’s right for you as a couple.
Start by asking yourselves this question: “How important is wedding photography to us?”
If the answer is “not that important,” then don’t feel like you have to spend a bunch of money on an expensive photographer. If the answer is “extremely important,” then you can always rearrange your budget to allot more funds to photography. Figure out which things aren’t as important to you. Maybe you don’t care about having a fancy wedding cake. Or stationery (save-the-dates and invitations). Or flowers.
Only you can make this decision for yourself. Every couple is different and every couple values different things. And that’s okay! There is no right answer here. Do what makes the most sense for you and you won’t regret it. Happy wedding planning!
Thanks for reading! As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions for us. We’re here as a resource for you throughout your entire wedding planning process.